Best Portable Generators

We did the research to find the best portable generators made in the USA. Different people have different needs when it comes to purchasing a generator: backup power supply, camping, power tools, and many others. Below, you’ll find recommendations for several of those use categories, as well as detailed product information about each, and even our research methodology.

Our Findings

Overall, we found that three American companies were really producing the best portable generators today: Briggs & Stratton, Champion Power Equipment, and Generac. Each of them bring great products for a variety of uses, which you’ll find detailed in our recommendations below.

Top Recommendations

Best Portable GeneratorsBest for:
Briggs & Stratton 30676, 3500 Running WattsMost Affordable
Champion Power Equipment 75537i 3100 WattTailgating & Camping
Champion Power Equipment 100219 7500 WattHeavy Duty
Generac 5734, 15000 Running WattsHigh Wattage

Recommendations: Going Deeper

Below, we go into a ton of detail about each of our top picks, why we liked them, and even included a few drawbacks for each.

Most Affordable Portable Generator

Briggs & Stratton 30676, 3500 Running Watts


The Briggs and Stratton 3500 Watt portable generator is the most affordable generator on the market for the reliability you’re getting. A generator with 3500 watts serves well as a backup power source for when the lights go out during a storm, as well as a sturdy companion for powering heavy machinery like pressure washers or the TV and stereo at your next tailgate. The B&S 40676 has a power surge alternator that produces an ample amount of surge wattage to jumpstart large appliances and tools all at once. The 7-inch “never go flat” wheels on this generator are very reliable from what we saw. Fuel tank capacity is 5 gallons, and running at 50% power load, you can get about 14 hours of use out of this generator, which is among the best power life on the market among portable generators.

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Things we like:

  • 2 year limited warranty
  • Two household outlets and one RV outlet on the control panel
  • Reliable and durable construction
  • 14-hour run time without refueling
  • Powerful power surge alternator

Things we don’t like:

  • Some customers have experienced delivery damage

 

Best Portable Generator for Tailgating and Camping

Champion Power Equipment 75537i 3100 Watt

The Champion Power Equipment 3100 Watt generator is perfect for your next camping trip or tailgate – it checked all of our boxes for the features and reliability you need for both of those activities. The tank holds up to about 1.6 gallons of gas, lasting up to about 8 hours on a single tank. Two of the best benefits we found about this generator was how quiet and lightweight it is compared to the competition. The build is great for powering sensitive electronics and has several outlets for household and RV plugs – 120V 30A RV outlet and two 120V 20A household and 12V DC outlets. Speaking of RVs, this generator comes ready to sustainably power big electronics, even up to a 15,000 BTU air conditioner on your RV. It even has a wireless remote starter.

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Things we like:

  • Wireless remote start, up to 80 feet away
  • Carry handles
  • Quiet (58 dBA from 23 feet away) and lightweight (96 lbs)
  • Has an economy mode to actively idle and save fuel
  • USB adapter included to charge phones and tablets
  • Clean Power,¬†<3% THD
  • Pull cord starter¬†also available

Things we don’t like:

  • Wheel stability has been an issue for some customers

 

Best Heavy Duty Portable Generator

Champion Power Equipment 100219 7500 Watt

The Champion 7500 Watt portable generator is the best we found for heavy duty jobs. It’s perfect for powering: large appliances during your next power outage, multiple power tools, large AC units, and other heavy duty jobs. This generator has an “intelligauge” so that you can accurately track power output, maintenance intervals, and more. The run time is about 8 hours on a full tank of gas (6.1 gallons) at 50% load – pretty standard among most 7500 watt generators. The durable steel frame and “never flat” wheels performed best among the models we looked at. For starting, this model has both a pull cord and a push button electric start.

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Things we like:

  • Ample 25 ft power cord
  • 3 year limited warranty and free lifetime technical support
  • Automatic low-oil shut-off sensor
  • Touch Start capability – power up the generator with the push of a button (battery included)
  • Plenty of outlets, all secured by Volt Guard – protects appliances from power surges

Things we don’t like:

  • None

 

Best High Wattage Portable Generator

Generac 5734, 15000 Running Watts

If you need a ton of power in your generator, the Generac 15,000 watt portable generator is the best we found among US manufacturers. For unexpected power outages, this portable generator has enough power to run your large appliances, security system, sump pump, lights, and other small appliances throughout the house. It’s also great for use on a job site or campground that requires a lot of power. A sturdy steel tube exterior prevents damage to the wonderfully constructed OHVI (overhead valve industrial) engine inside. The engine and oil filter are constructed nicely on this generator for longer engine life, and it has some nice safeguards on it too, like a low oil automatic shutdown to prevent engine damage and a maintenance alert system.

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Things we like:

  • Durable steel frame
  • Safeguards for engine protection
  • Electric start
  • Hour meter to gauge fuel consumption
  • 16 gallon fuel tank – runs for 10 hours at 50% load
  • Surge protected outlets

Things we don’t like:

  • Very heavy at 373 lbs

Recap: Best Portable Generators Made in the USA


Factors We Considered

Durability

Portable generators are a lifetime investment. If you buy the right one and take care of it, they can last you decades of use. We looked for generators that showed durability in their frame, engine construction, and much more to make sure that the generator you end up choosing is an asset to you in times of need.

Power Level

Portable generators have several different use cases, everything from rebooting large appliances when your power goes out, to firing up the TV at your next tailgate or running the pressure washer at your job site. Each of these tasks and many others require different power levels. The more available wattage you have in your portable generator, the higher load tasks it can handle. Typically, anything above a couple thousand watts will be just fine for powering your tailgate, small appliances, and small machinery. If you want to power larger appliances like refrigerators, you need at least 3,500 watts. And for tasks like powering your AC unit in your camping RV, you need at least 7,500 watts. Each task is different, so make sure you know what you’ll be using your portable generator for before making a purchasing decision. We made sure to include generators in our selections that could cover virtually all of your needs.

Extra Features

Extra features are always nice on portable generators, so we looked for the features that are going to add significant value to your experience. They included items like: wireless remote starters, multiple outlet options, USB adapters, electric starters, safeguards for engine health, and more.

Value

We want to make sure that you’re getting the best portable generator for your money. We eliminated several generators because we thought their quality didn’t live up to their price tag.

Noise Level

Generators are known to make a lot of noise, and if you have one inside your home or at your tailgate powering appliances, the excess noise can be a nuisance. We eliminated generators from our consideration that were excessively noisy. The ones that came out on top for us passed our noise level tests, without sacrificing on quality.

Run Time

In most use cases, you need your generator to last you more than just a couple of hours. We looked for generators that at least met the average run time for their wattage level, and had features included that can help you save fuel and use it efficiently. Several portable generators these days come with automatic idling capabilities to save fuel when they can.

 

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